How to Choose a Paralegal School near Windham New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to enroll in paralegal studies near Windham NH and begin your journey that will result in a gratifying profession in legal services. However, it’s important that you find the best school so that you will receive the extensive training that you require to achieve success. As you most likely know, the legal field is among the fastest growing occupations in the United States, and increasingly more academic options are becoming available, both on campus and online. But with numerous alternatives to choose from, where does one begin? Many potential students start by looking for schools within commuting distance of their Windham residences. Of those options, they look for the program with the most affordable tuition. Although location and cost are important considerations when selecting a college, they are not the only factors you need to take into consideration. Things such as the reputation and accreditation of the program need to be taken into account as well. Later in this article we will review a list of concerns that you should ask prospective paralegal schools so that you can evaluate and compare every one prior to making your choice. But before we do, let’s have a look at exactly what a paralegal does and the instructional choices that are offered to earn either a paralegal certificate or degree.
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
Legal assistants and paralegals for the most part both hold the same job roles and responsibilities, only with different titles. On the other hand, legal secretaries are not the same as either of those two positions and belong to a separate job classification. Both legal assistants and paralegals help Windham NH lawyers with a wide range of job duties, such as maintaining client files, legal research, communicating with clients, and drafting legal documents. Their specific job duties are based upon the type of practice where they are employed. As an example, a legal assistant for a criminal law practice might assist with trial logistics or transferring documents to court. In private firms, a paralegal’s work is usually billed by the hour as are the lawyer’s. And just like lawyers, they must perform with a high degree of professionalism and adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. As noted, their duties can be diverse in support of the practices where they are employed, but a few of their daily tasks can involve:
- Researching and fact checking cases
- Researching relevant cases and laws
- Drafting correspondence and legal documents
- Filing legal documents with opposing counsel or the court
- Helping attorneys get ready for trial and stay organized with their cases
- Organizing and maintaining legal documents, files and other records
With all of their responsibilities, the role of a paralegal can be complex and quite demanding. On the other hand, what they are not legally authorized to do is provide legal advice and counsel or represent a client in a legal proceeding. But they are not limited to clerical or administrative duties more suited to the job of a legal secretary. Paralegals really are the main support systems for lawyers. And because they do so much of the legal preparation and ground work, attorneys are able to manage a much larger number of clients or cases than they could alone.
Paralegal Programs and Certification
As we discussed earlier, paralegals are actually the same as legal assistants, with paralegals arguably having more professional sounding job titles. As a result, for either position the educational prerequisites and opportunities will be the same. The fastest way to start your career as a paralegal in Windham NH is by earning a certificate, which may involve as little as 6 months to complete. Many entry level positions do call for an Associate’s Degree, which furnish a more expansive education and may be earned at numerous community colleges in 2 years. For an even more comprehensive education, 4 year Bachelor’s Degrees are an option as well. Once you have earned either a certificate or degree, you might choose to proceed and obtain a certification. Even though it is not a legal requirement in New Hampshire to work as a paralegal, certification can not only help maximize your career opportunities, but help substantiate you as a professional also. A few of the highly regarded certifying organizations in the profession are:
- National Federation of Paralegal Associations
- American Alliance of Paralegals
- National Association of Legal Assistants
- National Association for Legal Professionals
By graduating with a paralegal degree or certificate from an accredited school (we will discuss the benefits of accreditation later) and obtaining a certification, you will have taken 2 essential initial steps that will help guarantee your success as either a paralegal or a legal assistant.
Things to Ask Paralegal Degree Programs
Once you have a better idea regarding what paralegals do and what training options are offered, you can start the process of assessing schools. But because there are numerous programs accessible at junior and community colleges in the Windham NH area, as well as vocational and trade schools, you need to find out what questions to ask in order to evaluate each one. This is especially true if you add all of the online paralegal degree and certificate programs as well. If you are like the majority of potential students, you will begin by searching for schools within driving distance and then comparing their tuition. But as we have already discussed, there are other crucial factors to research also, including the reputation and accreditation of the schools. So let’s go over several of the questions you should be asking the programs you are investigating so that you can effectively vet each one and make your ultimate selection.
Is the Paralegal Program and School Accredited? The paralegal program and school that you select need to be accredited by a respected organization such as the American Bar Association. If it is an online program, it can also get accreditation from the Distance Education and Training Council, which focuses on online or distance training. Accreditation will not only certify that the education you will get will be of the highest quality, but it will demonstrate to potential employers that you are a qualified professional as well. Many Windham NH law firms will only employ entry level legal assistants that have graduated from an accredited school. Also, financial assistance and student loans are typically accessible only for accredited schools.
What’s the Reputation of the Program? Find out what the rankings and reputations are for the paralegal schools you are contemplating. This is of particular importance if you are entering the profession with no prior work history, since employers will need to rely on the caliber of your training exclusively. Verifying that the program you choose is accredited is an excellent first step. Reviewing school rating reports, including those furnished by U.S. News and World Report, can help determine school rankings and quality of education as well. You can also contact a few Windham NH law firms that you may be interested in working for after graduation and ask which schools they suggest. Bear in mind that even though a school is not among the most highly ranked, its paralegal program may still have an exceptional reputation.
Does the School Offer Internships? Internship programs provide students a chance to experience working in a law firm or other legal establishment while still in school. They can also offer an avenue for students to begin developing contacts within the Windham NH legal field. Find out if the paralegal schools you are assessing offer internship programs, specifically in areas of the law that you are most interested in entering upon graduation.
Is Job Placement Help provided? You will probably wish to hit the ground running after graduation, but finding that first job in a new field can be difficult without assistance. Ask if the paralegal schools you are interviewing have job placement programs and what their success rates are. Rapid and high placement rates are an excellent indication that the schools have large networks and great relationships with New Hampshire legal services employers. It also confirms that their graduates are well regarded and sought after.
Where is the School’s Location? Since laws vary among states, it may be a good idea to select a legal assistant school domiciled in New Hampshire or the state where you plan to practice after graduating. Also, it will be necessary to develop relationships in the neighboring legal community, possibly by means of an internship program. This is even more reason to receive your education in the area where you desire to work. Also, if you go to classes at a community college, many charge an increased tuition for students that reside outside of their districts. So you might want to initially look at those schools that are within the Windham NH region.
How Much is the Complete Cost? Paralegal programs can differ in cost based on the credential received and the amount of training provided. However, tuition will not be the only expense for your training. Remember to include the cost of books, supplies and commuting to classes to your budget as well. Financial aid may be available to help reduce part of the expense, so be sure to contact the school’s financial aid department to see what is available in Windham NH. Needless to say that if you opt to attend an online program, some of these supplementary costs, such as for commuting, may be reduced or eliminated.
Do the Classes Accommodate your Schedule? Numerous legal students keep working while obtaining their training and must have flexibility in class scheduling. If you can solely attend night or weekend classes near Windham NH, make certain classes are offered at those times. Also, if you can only attend on a part time basis, confirm that the school you select provides that option. Last, find out what the protocol is for making-up missed classes because of sickness, work or family emergencies.
Online Paralegal and Legal Assistant Training
Online paralegal or legal assistant programs have become more available and can be a good option for those looking for convenient access to classes and accommodating scheduling. Online schools can be especially attractive to students who keep working while obtaining a certificate or degree. As an added benefit, online schools can often be less costly than more traditional options. Even supplementary expenses for such things as study materials or commuting may be reduced or eliminated. One caution, not all online schools are accredited, which we will discuss in more detail later. But at the very least accreditation helps guarantee that the education you obtain is of the highest caliber. So check to make certain that the program and school you are looking into are accredited by a reputable agency, such as the American Bar Association. But if you are disciplined enough to study in a less supervised and conventional environment, then obtaining your certificate or degree online might be the right choice for you.
Will You Attend Paralegal School near Windham NH?
If you live near Windham NH or perhaps you are considering attending classes in that area, following is some interesting and useful information regarding the location of your new school campus.
Windham, New Hampshire
The area was initially home to the Pawtucket Native Americans. Scottish immigrants began to settle in the area in 1719. The region was known as “Nutfield” and included what are now the neighboring towns of Derry and Londonderry. By 1721 some of the original settlers petitioned to form a separate independent community. Governor Benning Wentworth granted this request in 1742. One published theory holds that the community's name refers to Windham, Ireland, harkening back to the petitioners' homeland. However, it has been alternatively postulated that the town was named after Sir Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, a member of Parliament from 1734 to 1750, Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1761 to 1763, and a good friend of Governor Wentworth. The town of Windham was originally a parish of Londonderry. Windham was the second town designated by Governor Benning Wentworth following the establishment of the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border. Windham was the birthplace of Samuel Dinsmoor, Governor of New Hampshire from 1831 to 1834. The first census ever taken in Windham totaled at 663 residents in the year 1790.
Historic landmarks in Windham include the Searles School, Searles Castle, the town center, and the Armstrong Memorial Building. Searles Castle is one of Windham’s most prominent landmarks. Edward F. Searles, an interior decorator and antique collector, built the castle. The architect, Henry Vaughn, modeled the castle’s architecture after the style of the Stanton Harcourt Manor in Oxfordshire, England. The building was completed in 1915 at a cost of over $1,250,000. The castle contains over 20 rooms and is available to the public to be rented out for functions and events. In July 1909, Mr. Searles erected a commemorative plaque honoring governor Samuel Dinsmoor "a few rods" from his birthplace on Jenny's Hill, which stands today as a designated historic landmark.
Windham is situated in Rockingham County in southeastern New Hampshire, approximately 3 miles (5 km) north of the Massachusetts border. It is accessible from Exit 3 of Interstate 93. Windham is considered a bedroom community because of its growing population (over 10,000), only about 160 commercial land parcels, and lack of public transportation. The nearest airport to Windham is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, about 20 miles (32 km) to the north. Boston, Massachusetts, is 37 miles (60 km) to the south along Interstate 93. The landscape of Windham consists of suburban subdivisions, rural open spaces and large areas of undeveloped land.
Select the Ideal Legal Assistant College near Windham NH
Choosing the best paralegal degree program is an important first step toward your success in the gratifying field of law. As we have addressed in this article, you have the choice of attending classes at school or you can attend them online in the comfort and privacy of your Windham home. Paralegal training programs are offered in many lengths and formats. Several kinds of public and private institutions make available paralegal training, including community and junior colleges, four-year universities and colleges, in addition to trade and vocational schools. Your selection of a paralegal school will have a profound impact on your opportunities for success in your new profession. Considering that there is a broad range in the quality of programs, choose wisely. Give yourself the greatest possible opportunity to succeed in this exciting profession. But no matter how you choose to obtain your training and earn your degree or certificate, by asking the questions that we have provided you will have the ability to assess each program and make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate training you can accomplish your career goal to become a successful paralegal in Windham NH.
Other New Hampshire Locations That May Be Of Interest
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